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Thursday, November 12, 2015

21

Today you are 21.

Twenty-one.

How did we get here so quickly? Never mind that you are now the age I was when you were born. A whole lifetime.

You have such a capacity for love. Especially the least of them among us. I can see how this started right here, in our not so little family. You welcomed every sibling with such genuine joy and delight. Even now, you love to make them smile, shower them with little gifts and surprises. You welcomed them even as you knew there would be a little more noise, a little less room.

You work hard every day. You want to excel at whatever the task put before you. Today it is writing an excellent paper for school. Tomorrow it might be plating a beautiful salad. No task is to small or menial that it doesn't deserve your best effort.

You have changed me in the best ways possible.

I love Maddy Bear! I pray you continue to grow in grace and wisdom. Many years!

Friday, October 9, 2015

Gratitude

It has been a long couple of weeks.

At the beginning of September, my Abuelita passed away. She had a long life. She had a big beautiful family. Her funeral and the few days I spent in Florida with my extended family were wonderful. Yes. Wonderful. I felt such peace. I felt so much love. It is hard to put into words. So much grace. 

But in the midst of it, there was unexpected grief. As I arrived in Florida I received the tragic news that an old friend from elementary school passed away suddenly. I had known him and his family since the fourth grade. His mother threw me a baby shower when I was expecting my first child. It hurt. It took my breath away if I think about it. As I saw all the old crew from school, I was so sad. Grown men yes, but I think I still saw boys. Boys who had just lost their best friend. It was difficult.

But we picked our heads up, got into the routine. School, jobs, soccer.

On Saturday, my world shattered again. Our friend Richard, who had coached Carmen for two years, currently coached Kay, passed away. Suddenly. Carmen helped him coach Kay's team. His daughter has played with Carmen for two years, and just this summer had moved with her to a new team. Richard and Penny were like family. The old team we had come from was very close. It was so good to have their familiar, warm presence with us at the new team. And he's gone. I still can't wrap my mind around it. I'm heartbroken.

Last night, we got the girls from Kay's team together, to hang out, share happy memories. To grieve. It was perfect.

Less than two years ago Carmen lost another mentor and support. I have been saying since that day that the worst day of my life was having to tell her he had died. Until this week. When I had to do it again, except with two daughters.

Today was "Club Day" in our parish homeschool group. I missed the meeting last month because I was at a funeral. And early this week, I wasn't sure if I would make it this month because of another funeral. God is good. The timing was what it needed to be. I spent my morning with 3 and 4 year olds. We learned about the Holy Trinity and the Sign of the Cross. The play dough I made was way too sticky. We didn't even get to everything I had planned. And...it was perfect. Those dear little ones had me at hello. What a beautiful group of children. I am so blessed. 

And then there was the weekly grocery store run, and getting home and putting it all away, and driving a big kid to an overnight job. And tomorrow I have to drive a kid to driver's ed class. And there is a soccer tournament. And the other daughter will be in Virginia Beach with Dave at her soccer tournament.

This evening, I am tired. My feet hurt a little bit. I'm pretty sure I forgot to eat lunch.

I am profoundly grateful. Thanks be to God!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Learning in the Margins

Carmen has a soccer game about an hour and a half away today. Two kids are out to lunch and a movie with Abuelos. One daughter is out working. There are three more soccer games this week. Did I mention its hot? Super hot.

Still, this morning, before I jumped into my day, I sat to eat some breakfast and drink my coffee. John snuggled up under a mountain of pillows on the couch next to me. I put on a podcast from the BBC, a science show called In Our Time. (Soon I will write about how much I love science podcasts. Love.) This episode was about neutrinos. Apparently John was listening because he suddenly sits up and says, "That's true right? Everything is made of particles. Everything." This got a small discussion going. I told him about atoms, and the even smaller particles that make up atoms. Then I remembered that I had grabbed this book, Albie's First Word, at the library. So, I pulled it out. Mara, who loves being read to, snuggled in to listen. And Ella for a brief moment. The book is a great introduction to Albert Einstein. No physics, no science at all. It speaks beautifully to the idea of giving children space and time to think, to ponder, to daydream. We read it. We talked about thinking about things and being creative. We talked about asking questions as we learn. 

It was a brief moment in a busy week. But it was a powerful reminder for me of what this learning at home is really about for my children. It is about space and time to ponder and daydream. It as about the freedom to go at their pace. It is about asking questions and finding answers together.

Monday, July 6, 2015

World Cup Thoughts

How about I just jump right in here and pretend like I've been faithfully blogging. Here goes.

Four years ago I wrote this post about the Women's World Cup. As I reread it before linking, I see how much is still true. The only big difference is that the little girl pictured there will turn 15 in just ten days. And her hair is very short now. Very short. Because she still plays soccer. She doesn't ever want to worry about doing up her hair or wonder if it looks just right when she steps on the pitch. This summer she is playing with the academy team for the Washington Spirit, the local pro team. She knows the coach. Really. He evaluated her when she tried out. He just showed up at her game a few weeks ago. It is a great program for aspiring young women. We're thrilled she is a part of this team. This fall she joins a new, highly competitive team. It is playing on a level that is challenging all her skills and fitness. She loves it. Every second of it.

Carmen's little sister Aggie is following in her footsteps. The joke (that Carmen doesn't always laugh about) is how soon Aggie will surpass her big sister in skill. What do you expect from a kid that was on soccer sideline pretty much from the day she was born.

What I didn't know four years ago is how much that game captured my husband. You will not find a bigger promoter and supporter of the women's game. His enthusiasm inspires and encourages his daughters. It is a beautiful thing. You will not find a bigger promoter and supporter of his daughters.

It was a thrilling game last night. A magnificent achievement. But please know, my favorite soccer players, I make them dinner every night.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

How I relaxed and didn't relax about the new school year

Actually, I just want to share some things that are really working and a rough outline of what I'm doing this year,

Sam read Of Mice and Men recently and then asked me to get him The Grapes of Wrath. He started reading it, but now has paused. I asked him if he was interested in the Great Depression in general. He was, and so that set him down a trail for history and literature. I wanted him to understand the period just prior to the Great Depression so I am having him read Only Yesterday. It was written in 1931. It is an interesting read looking back on such recent history at the start of such a bleak era in American History. He is reading the Great Gatsby as well. So am I. Actually I am about to finish. Can you believe I never read it? I love it. Beautiful language. When he finishes he will read The Great Depression. This is a narrative history. He will also read King of the Hill. This a memoir of the era set in the Midwest. He will also read Cinderella Man. This is an autobiography (yes, like the movie) of a Depression Era boxer set in New York/New Jersey. He will also pick up reading The Grapes of Wrath again. So will I. By the way, Sam is 16 years old, technically a Junior.

The other thing that is working is ancient history. I outlined a course for Carmen to follow. This is the part where I didn't relax. She plays travel soccer and wants to play for UVA. I am a little anxious about her High School years. They need to be intentional and thorough. I cannot guess and mumble my way through a transcript for her. In any case, I like the course I have created for her. I can go into detail in another post. What I am enjoying is my decision to mostly pull along her siblings. We are still reading lots of just plain picture books. I am trying to structure these either seasonally or by author studies. But it is nice to have a history spine that is the same for this group. Even my kindergartner is enjoying the topics.

And. Khan Academy. Oh my goodness. My kids are all working through math at Khan Academy. Every single one of them loves it. Loves. They don't love math. They ask to do math. Wow. I supplement with worksheets or exercises and drills when I need to. Sometimes I watch with them, pause, makes sure they've understood, and then keep watching. So well done. Free. Amazing. This makes me love the Internet. Also awesome, the Art History and Science courses. I wrote Carmen's biology course based on their Crash Course:Biology. I can even track their progress and get reports.

Something new. I just ordered the very first Life of Fred book to start with my Johnny, my kindergartner. I think he will love it. I have wanted to try these books for a very long time. I may even use some for my older kids. We'll see.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

We Begin Again


A new soccer season...

This fall I have four soccer players. Four. That is six practices and four games a week (my oldest young adult plays in an adult league, no practice.) That does not include three (more likely four) tournament weekends.

I love it. Yes, it is busy. Yes today was miserably hot. What the heck September?

But. But.

Kay played in her first soccer game ever. She was goalie for the second half and had a clean sheet. They won. Carmen is helping coach the team. The assistant coach for her travel team is Kay's coach. Aggie scored a goal today and nearly scored another sliding goal. She is seven, but the skill she is showing makes me grin like crazy. Carmen is also going to help coach this team. We have connections to them through Carmen's travel team as well. All in the family, right? Tomorrow Carmen plays. I can't wait. Nine weeks of this, I love it.

And yes, a new school year. I can't quite explain what I'm feeling this year. I have so many big kids now. And I have so many littles. I am finding the balance of teaching all of them. That means discussing The Great Gatsby with my grown son and pausing in the afternoon to bake cookies for tea time with my little son. It means Aggie practicing reading sitting with the toddler while I give my new high schooler some help.

I know I will complain some days. I know I will snap when I am interrupted for what feels like the hundredth time. I know I will be tired. Often. It will not be easy. His grace is sufficient and His mercy will make up for my weakness.


Monday, July 14, 2014

On Deep Cleaning

Deep cleaning and sorting lots of toys. 


Why do my children have so many rocks? 


We have so much doll stuff. So much. 


I get a tiny bit obsessive about sorting and storing. And I mean down to what sits next to what on the shelves...all the toys that's build, hot wheels and superheroes should be near each other...and on and on it goes.


None of my containers match. None. Strangely enough, this does not bother me.


Why do my children have so many seashells?


The three year old likes to "help".  


I am both disgusted by and proud of how much my vacuum picks. 


Which leads me to wonder if the big kids actually vacuumed the basement all those times they were instructed to.


Very grateful for A.C.


Wish I had a fitbit. Because wow, countless trips up and down stairs.


This is just the opening act. Up next, the little girls room. The most frightening room in the house.